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European Summer Vacation for my Teen

So, long story short -- My son (16) has been nagging me nonstop about doing a vacation by himself, and no matter how hard I try, I can't get him to drop it. His father went to Europe around his age, and I think the stories have started to rub off on him.

Basically, his father is for it, and although I was a little apprehensive at first, I am starting to come around too. But I don't really just want to send him all on his own. I started looking into backpacking companies, and I only came across one (called Big Brother Backpacking) that looks promising. The site is just that with a .com on the end.

I am wondering if anybody has sent their children with them before? Do you know if they are good or not? I want to be a good mom here, but I can't help but go over the whole thing with a fine tooth comb. Am I wrong in sending my kid out so young? Am I wrong in being so worried?

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Asked by TeenExpert at 4:29 AM on Jan. 7, 2010 in Travel

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Answers (8)
  • Honestly I would say no way! You shouldn't send your child off on a European vacation by themselves. Its way too dangerous. And if they were in an accident or something you would be so far away from them. I just don't think its a very good idea.

    Answer by Frogbaby83 at 4:36 AM on Jan. 7, 2010

  • Sixteen is too young. I doubt that he has the "street smarts" to be in any city on his own. He may not be old enough to register himself in a hostel or hotel in many countries.

    Granted, when you travel, you meet tons of fellow travelers on the trains and in the youth hostels, but you also need to worry about someone slitting open your backpack and emptying it while you are on a crowded bus, etc.

    Send him alone to New York or Chicago (the South Loop youth hostel is beautiful!) for a weekend as a test.

    Answer by rkoloms at 6:37 AM on Jan. 7, 2010

  • I would never send a kid under 18 out of the country on his/her own.

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:41 AM on Jan. 7, 2010

  • I wouldnt allow it...there are too many things that can go wrong....even after they are of legal age to decide for themselves....I'd have him wait 2 years and let him do as he wishes.....however I would not fund that little expedition either...I lived in Europe for quite a while and it can be a dangerous affair if you don't know what you're getting yourself into......

    Answer by LynnB1 at 10:50 AM on Jan. 7, 2010

  • Phew, lot of answers! Thanks for paying attention everybody!

    I just thought I would clarify, though, even though everybody has me a bit more nervous! I already told him that he could go (oops), and his father is entirely for it. I am not going to send him on his own (I would never!), but I was trying to find a good... how to put it... "chauffeur" company that would keep him safe. He really wants to go on his own, but that is where I put my foot down.

    I was kind of hoping that somebody knew about the company I found, but so far no luck. I have just started talking with the owner so I guess I will hear what he has to say.

    Answer by TeenExpert at 11:23 AM on Jan. 7, 2010

  • I would never let a 16 yr old go to Europe all on his own; there is too much to get into and the world is a very different place from when his dad was a teen. I would also look into foreign exchange programs where he could go live with a host family as well as the one you are already researching.

    Maybe his high school would have some resources as to escorted trips. I would maybe call a travel agency or two as well.

    Answer by balagan_imma at 3:37 PM on Jan. 7, 2010

  • I just looked into a program on It may or may not be what he wants but it is an interesting way to see the world. I found it because we got something in the mail for our 12 yr old to send him to Australia.

    Answer by balagan_imma at 6:06 PM on Jan. 8, 2010

  • Post this on and LONELY PLANET because you'll fish in a bigger pool.
    Have you seen the Euro is kicking our butt? Lol! No seriously, 16 is pretty young but I applaud you for doing it. I went at 21 first time. but not with everything on the Euro, internet cafes, it should be fine. There are also tours where he can hook up with his age group. Contiki is one. Anyway, good luck!

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 6:41 PM on Jan. 8, 2010

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